Free Agency Tracker 2016

Wow. Free Agency started off with a ridiculous bang didn’t it? I’m not sure about you guys but I could hardly keep up. Either way, I’m gonna sift through and grade the moves I can get a clear number on.

LATEST BUZZ:

Former Saints safety Rafael Bush visiting Lions, looking to replace Quddus

Russel Okung visiting Lions and Giants

Falcons are the favorite to land LB Jerrell Freeman

3/11/16

Broncos looking at 2 QBs: Mike Glennon and Colin Kaepernick, word is it will take a third round pick to acquire Glennon, who the Bucs brass loves.

Hearing 4 teams in the mix for C.J. Anderson: Patriots, Bears, 49ers, Dolphins

3/10/16

Nick Fairley and J.R. Sweezy reportedly on Saints radar

Saints looking to Coby Fleener now, looking for number 1 tight end

Steelers front-runners to sign Ladarius Green, Saints were in the mix

Falcons reportedly front-runners on WR Mohamed Sanu, offer is for $7 million per season.

Ravens clearing cap space interested in Mike Wallace, tight end

Transition tag removed from Olivier Vernon because Dolphins would not be able to match front-loaded contract Jags were prepared to offer Vernon.

3/9/16

 

NEW HOMES:

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Travis Lewis, LB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Lewis

 

 

Emmanuel Lamur, LB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Lamur

 

 

Michael Griffin, S: 1 year, $2.5 million, $750k guaranteed

Grade: B

Griffin

Griffin is over the hill. No doubt about that. He is, however, still all right.

He’s being paid a little bit over veteran minimum with hardly any guaranteed money at all, so the signing makes sense for depth purposes.

Griffin cannot start any longer.

 

 

Alex Boone, G: 4 years, $26.8 million, $10 million guaranteed

Grade: A-

Boone

This is probably the best offensive lineman signing of the season so far.

Boone is an excellent mauler run-blocker that should bust open plenty of holes for Adrian Peterson through the life of his contract.

To get a top-flight free agent guard at a little over 6 mil per year is an excellent signing. It’s a bit under market value.

 

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Brad Nortman, P: 4 years, $8.8 million

Grade: C

Nortman

Nortman is a fine punter, and the Jaguars needed one since Bryan Anger is a free agent.

I don’t much understand paying more than the veteran minimum for Nortman though. He’s nothing special.

And locking him up on a 4 year deal? It’s just kind of strange.

 

 

Tashaun Gipson, S: 5 years, $35.5 million

Grade: B

Gipson

I really like Gipson but it has to concern the Jags whether or not last year was an anomaly.

He had a brilliant 2014 and he’s still young and likely entering his prime, so there’s upside, but it remains to be seen whether he can be the lynchpin to hold together a poor secondary, which is what the Jags have right now.

At 7 mil per year, the Jags are betting a fair amount that he is.

 

 

Malik Jackson, DL: 6 years, $85.5 million, $31.5 million guaranteed

Grade: C

Jackson

Malik Jackson was the best available player on the market at the time. That doesn’t mean he is worth the nearly $13 million per year the Jags are handing him.

He will not live up to this contract, for many reasons. The biggest thing to consider is the talent around him on the defensive line: there is none. Dante Fowler Jr. is an unknown commodity and Jared Odrick is an average starter. There’s not much else to get excited about.

Jackson is a good player, but he will not change that defense without some help.

 

 

Chris Ivory, RB: 5 years, $32.5 million, $10-15 million guaranteed

Grade: D

Ivory

Running backs are not worth almost $7 million per season. They are not.

Consider also that Ivory is expected to be in a timeshare with T.J. Yeldon and you see why this deal feels a bit egregious.

I can at least admit I understand it. When healthy, Ivory was one of the most dominant backs in the NFL last season and Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and company have one year left to show the results of their master plan.

With $90 million to spend in free agency, they have the flexibility to buy the pieces they need and they clearly feel Ivory could be a missing piece on their offense.

I don’t necessarily agree, as I think they should probably be looking more toward their offensive and defensive lines (even after the Malik Jackson signing), but to each his own.

 

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Gino Gradkowski, C: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Gradkowski

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Khiry Robinson, RB: 1 year, $1.175 million

Grade: A+

Robinson

In a market for running backs that’s seen mediocre players like C.J. Anderson getting paid $4 million, it blows my mind to see a contract like this.

I’ve seen quite a bit of Robinson, and he has a punishing running style, reminds me of  a poor man’s Chris Ivory. That fits since he’s helping replace Ivory for the Jets, and for significantly less.

This is a coup for the Jets who have refueled their running back corps very well.

 

 

Matt Forte, RB: 3 years, $12 million, $8 million

Grade: A

Forte

What’s kind of tough to grade about this is the running back market is clearly different this season than it was last offseason.

Last offseason, premium running back numbers (Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller) received $4 million a year. Those two guys in this market would probably get 5-6 mil.

My main point here is Forte is still an excellent all-around back who should still be a viable starter through the life of his deal and the Jets are getting him for less than the current going rate.

So it’s a win.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Rishard Matthews, WR: 3 years, $15 million

Grade: B-

Matthews

As expected, Rishard Matthews was going to be the best value of the “top-flight” free agent options.

The Titans did a nice job buying fairly low on a guy who graded out very well last year and showed some play-making ability out of the slot.

It’s still a little too much since Matthews really hasn’t shown the ability to consistently produce yet. Still, I think he’s the best receiver deal so far.

 

 

Ben Jones, C: four years, $17.5 million, $7.5 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

B Jones

N0t much to see here.

Ben Jones is 27, and he probably won’t get too much better. He’s an average starter getting paid slightly more than he should on the open market.

The Titans did address a need here and it opens up more draft possibilities for them, which is why I’m giving this higher than a C.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Keenan Robinson, LB: 1 year, $3 million

Grade: C-

Robinson

Robinson was an ok rotational linebacker for the Redskins but I don’t see much upside here. He probably shouldn’t have earned much more than the vet. minimum.

Still, there’s no risk here. It’s just another case of the Giants overpaying. They’ve been pretty incompetent this off-season.

 

 

Olivier Vernon, DE: 5 years, $85 million, $52.5 million guaranteed

Grade: Baalke’s Starting Quarterback Decisions Grade

Vernon

Holy Crap. This is one of the most egregious over-payments to a defensive player I’ve ever seen.

The Giants must think they’re a couple of players away from a Super Bowl. They aren’t. This is going to cripple them. Vernon is not the best pass rusher in the league. He may not be in the top ten.

And yet, the Giants are paying him the largest deal in history for a defensive end. He’s getting paid almost as much per year as Osweiller. That is outrageous.

 

 

Damon Harrison, DT: 5 years, $46.25 million, $24 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Harrison

Harrison is one of the last great nose tackles left in the NFL. He’s a brilliant run-stuffer that can get after the passer from time-to-time.

A presence like his is desperately needed on a Giants defense that was devoid of talent in 2015 and he should come in and produce up to expectation. The concern is obviously how much talent he had around him in New York, but I expect his skills to translate.

A little over $9 million per year is overpaying, but not egregiously. This was just a small amount over the expected going rate of a top free agent like Harrison.

 

 

Janoris Jenkins, CB:5 years, $62.5 million, $29 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Jenkins

I love Janoris Jenkins’ potential. I do not love paying him premium starter money just because it’s a thin market.

Inevitably, some team was going to overpay for his services so I can’t knock the Giants too hard. They desperately need help everywhere on the defense, but the departure of Amukamara made corner a big concern.

Jenkins should come in and provide solid starter snaps, but I feel like this might end up very similar to the Maxwell deal last year. Hint: Maxwell is no longer on the team that overpaid for his services.

 

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Cedric Thornton, DT: 4 years, $18 million

Grade: B

Thornton

Here’s what I like about this: the Cowboys are addressing their needs so they can take the BPA at 4 overall.

Here’s what concerns me: Thornton hasn’t really ever produced at a high volume and he’s 29. Paying over $4 million a year is a little much, but it makes sense considering he’d easily become the most talented d-tackle on the roster.

It’s not close. It’s also smart to take him away from a division rival.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

C.J. Anderson, RB: 4 years, $18 million

Grade: D-

Anderson

This is an offer sheet so the Broncos will have an opportunity to match, they should not.

Anderson is bad at the beginning of the season. He gets decent when everyone else is hurt because he’s sturdy. There are better runners four rounds deep in this draft so I have no idea why the Dolphins would pay for him.

For that matter, Jay Ajayi, who they drafted last year, has a far superior skill-set overall. This deal sucks. But at least they’re not paying him Martin money. I hate Anderson. He sucks.

 

 

Sam Young, OT: 1 year, veteran minimum

Grade: B-

Young

Sam Young is barely rosterable, so this is barely better than average. That’s it. Good night.

 

 

Isa Abdul-Quddus, S: 3 years, $12.75 million

Grade: C

Quddus

Quddus is an adequate backup at safety who should not be relied upon to start. He might be a possibility as a nickel safety.

At a little over 4 mil a year, it’s a little steep for a guy that probably won’t offer meaningful starter snaps.

Still, he’s fairly young and likely in the midst of his prime, so I like the length of the contract.

 

 

Mario Williams: 2 years, $16 million

Grade: C-

Williams

I still think Williams has a lot to offer as a player, my concern is pairing him up with a bad influence like Suh, who could bring out the worst in him.

From what I understand, Williams’ main beef was being played out of position by Coach Rex Ryan, and it’s a reasonable frustration when it’s clear where a player best fits. That’s essentially Ryan screwing with Williams’ value by not putting him in the best position to succeed and produce at a high volume.

The Dolphins will likely slide Williams in as a replacement to Olivier Vernon and the production should not see much of a dip.

$8 million per year is a little steep for an older player like Williams, but he likely has a few good years left and it’s a short contract, so it’s not like they’ve shackled themselves for years to a player that could majorly regress.

This could go bad, but I find it a somewhat reasonably calculated risk.

 

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Dwight Lowery, S: 3 years, $7.2 million

Grade: B

Lowery

He was in the middle of the pack of available free agents according to Pro Football Focus on 11oo graded snaps.

He’s 30 so he figures to regress by the end of this contract, still if they don’t expect him to start, this deal should be fine for depth purposes.

Ideally, he won’t see the field often, so over $3 million per year might be a bit much.

 

 

Brandon Mebane, DT: 3 years, $13.5 million, $5.5 million

Grade: B+

Mebane

I love this signing. Evaluators say he still has the ability to wreck a game plan and his play on the field backs that up.

He’s good against the run and has pass rush ability, and since he’s already out of his prime, his regression shouldn’t be too stark until he’s done.

Basically, he should play at a fairly above-average level for the life of this contract and the Chargers are paying him average starter money.

 

 

Travis Benjamin, WR: 4 years, $24 million, $13 million guaranteed

Grade: D

Benjamin

I like the idea of getting Rivers more weapons, and with Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson already in the fold, San Diego is building itself a nice little corps.

Benjamin should be able to step into the slot and provide meaningful snaps fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, the Chargers paid him WR2 money, 6 mil per year is just too much for a guy that should not be seeing the field on every offensive snap. If they expect to make a jump, fine. I just don’t see it.

 

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Mohamed Sanu, WR: 5 years, $32.5 million, $14 million

Grade: Baalke fires Jim Harbaugh Grade

Sanu

I saw the buzz that the Falcons were going to throw 7 mil a year at Sanu. I honestly still can’t believe it happened.

This is an egregious overpayment for a player that would generously be worth $4 million a year. Don’t get me wrong, Sanu has a solid skill set and some versatility (he can run and throw as well).

But he hasn’t proven that he can consistently be a threat. Especially not to the point of getting paid fringe-starter money. Reminds me of the idiot that fired Jim Harbaugh.

 

 

Derrick Shelby, DE: 4 years, $21 million

Grade: A

Shelby

Shelby graded out as the fifth best edge player in a talent-rich free agent pool in 871 graded snaps last season according to Pro Football Focus.

He’s also 27 and will not be expected to save the defense since the Falcons already invested in Vic Beasley a year ago. This is a brilliant signing with a ton of upside for a solid rate.

Teams tend to pay for the pass rush, but in this case, the Falcons got a steal.

 

 

Matt Schaub, QB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Schaub

 

 

Alex Mack, C: 5 years, $45 million, $28.5 million

Grade: B-

Mack

Mack is just reaching the end of his prime, and will not get any better.

In fact, with inferior talent around him on the Falcons line as opposed to a talent-rich Browns line, he might get worse.

The other side of that coin, though: he’ll make everyone else’s job on the line easier. That’s an exciting prospect for the Falcons, as they have not had a premiere lineman since Matt Ryan arrived.

It’s just a bit too much to pay, $9 million a year, for a guy that has clearly left his prime, so I’m not in love with the signing. It’s all right.

 

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Sean Smith, CB: 4 years, $40 million, $20 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Smith

It’s becoming clear that Raiders brass recognizes their needs, which is encouraging.

They’re also finding some really solid options to fill their holes. The main issue I have is paying a corner $10 million a year. It reminds me of a few years ago when the Cowboys did the same thing with an ascending Brandon Carr.

That move helped get them into a cap mess they’re still working out of and Carr in no way lived up to the contract. I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s tough for a corner to earn $10 million a year, especially one without a penchant for turnovers like Smith.

 

 

Bruce Irvin, OLB: 4 years, $37 million, 12.5 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Irvin

Irvin is not a game-changing linebacker, and although this was a position of need, the Raiders overpaid here.

There is very little chance Irvin lives up to over $9 million per year. The saving grace on this one is the low guarantee number which would allow the Raiders to essentially opt out after the 2016 season since the guarantee is completely front loaded.

That’s a good plan by Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Still, as it stands, this is too much for a marginal starter.

 

 

Kelechi Osemele, OL: 5 years, $58.5.million, 25.4 million guaranteed

Grade: C-

Osemele

This is another case of the Raiders overpaying, big-time.

The key here is that the buzz says the Raiders see Osemele’s value at tackle. That is not where his value lies, as he is just an above-average left tackle.

He is a dominant guard, however, and it’s possible Raiders brass will recognize that and play him accordingly.

Unfortunately, paying $11 million a year to a fringe starter at tackle or a dominant guard, regardless, is too much money. Like the player, but the numbers don’t work for me.

 

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Bobby Massie, OT: 3 years, $18 million

Grade: Baalke Thinks Torrey Smith is a WR1 Grade

Massie

Massie has been fairly dreadful for most of his time as a pro, he’s been mostly below average, even on the right side of the line, which is where tackles who can’t pass block go.

The problem is Massie doesn’t offer much in the run block either. He certainly doesn’t have starter qualities. Still, he has some utility as a swing tackle.

I have some qualms with paying $6  million per year to a swing tackle. That’s the kind of idiotic move a guy who thinks Torrey Smith can be a WR1 would make… oh yeah.

 

 

Danny Trevathan, LB: 4 years, $28 million

Grade: A+

Trevathan

For a player with a complete skill set like Trevathan (he can cover, run-stuff and rush the passer on occasion) I would have expected somewhere in the realm of $10 million a year.

This deal is absolutely fantastic for the Bears as Trevathan is just entering his prime and has gotten better every year he’s been in the league.

Reuniting with coach John Fox just sweetens the deal. Top marks to the Bears for this move.

 

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Mitchell Schwartz, OT: 5 years, $33 million, $15 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Schwartz

Schwartz was one of the top right tackles in the NFL last year.

This was, however, one year removed from being a complete liability on the Browns offensive line. There’s always the question of a player playing for a contract.

But there is the possibility, especially considering he’s still young, that he’s turned a corner and about to enter his prime. If that’s the case, less than $7 million per year is a very solid price to pay. Still, there’s a bit of risk here so I don’t love it.

 

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Ladarius Green, TE: 5 years, $20 million

Grade: A

Green

Green is an ascending player who never really got a chance to show off his insane skill-set.

He’s a scary height-weight-speed combination that should thrive as a starter for the Steelers who needed it after the retirement of Heath Miller.

My one worry is that he hasn’t had that breakout season yet, but other teams paid more for less potential.

 

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

J.R. Sweezy, G: 5 years, $32.5 million

Grade: B

Sweezy

Sweezy is a solid road-grader, so it makes sense that they follow up the Doug Martin signing with some help for the offensive line.

However, Sweezy is not a great pass-protector and will be asked to do that with Jameis Winston behind center.

He’s getting paid a little less than the other guards that have signed today, which makes sense because he’s a little worse than the rest of them.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Ron Brooks, CB: 3 years, $8.7 million

Grade: B

R Brooks

This is a tough one to grade since Brooks didn’t get meaningful snaps last year.

He is, however, familiar with Schwartz and I’m a big fan of good coaches bringing in their guys since there’s almost certainly a proper scheme fit.

The Eagles needed to find better depth at corner, which they have. Now they need a true number 1.

 

 

Nigel Bradham, LB: 2 years, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

Bradham

 

 

Brandon Brooks, OG: 5 years, $40 million

Grade: C+

B Brooks

Brooks is a solid guard and only 27 so on the surface, this seems like a solid deal.

This move was, however, clearly dictated by need in a thin market and so the Eagles were forced to grossly overpay for his services.

That much, I do not love. It is good that the Eagles recognize their needs and are continuing to allow themselves more draft flexibility with so many picks.

They are in line to develop a talented roster in the next couple of years.

 

 

Chase Daniel, QB: 3 years, $21 million, $12 million

Grade: B-

Daniel

Daniel is an excellent option at backup for the Doug Pederson-led Eagles.

He represents a major upgrade over Mark Sanchez, who struggles with consistent accuracy and poise. Daniel has all of those in spades and can immediately step in and run the offense effectively.

However, the Eagles overpaid just a bit for his services. 7 mil per year is certainly a premium for a guy that doesn’t have extensive starting experience. Word is he’ll have a chance to compete for the starting job and will likely see time anyway since Bradford is so injury-prone.

 

 

Rodney McLeod, S: 5 years, $37 million, $17 million guaranteed

Grade: B+

McLeod

I actually really like this move. The need at safety was pretty large next to Malcolm Jenkins. McLeod is a legitimate starter, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ third best available safety in 1180 snaps last season.

He’s 26 years old, so he should just be entering his prime. This is actually a lot like the Malcolm Jenkins signing from a couple years ago. The Eagles are getting a player that may ascend, and is very unlikely to regress.

The money is a bit too much for him though, I see his value more in the $6 million per year range, but the Eagles did a nice job not getting pushed around by the market. They got their guy and now they have more draft flexibility.

 

 

Leodis McKelvin: 2 years, $6 million

Grade: B

McKelvin

McKelvin may not be an above-average starter anymore, but he can be what Byron Maxwell was for the Eagles in 2015. He’s also coming at a hugely discounted rate.

The main reason for this is that he’s getting up there in age and has some injury concerns, but this is a good move for the Eagles, buying low on a guy who probably has a few good years left.

This should in no way preclude them from drafting a corner, however.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Coby Fleener, TE: 5 years, $36 million

Grade: B

Fleener

This is reportedly a back-loaded contract, which I’m not a fan of.

However, the Saints are clearly attempting to still make a run with the couple of years Brees has left, so the deal makes sense.

Fleener is a smart guy, and should pick up the complicated Saints offense quickly. The Saints just turned Ben Watson into a highly productive tight end at 35 so I expect Fleener should be able to produce similar numbers and for a longer amount of time.

A little over 7 mil is a lot. But it’s likely the going rate for top tight ends in a starved market. Fleener is almost certain to live up to the contract due to the way Brees and Payton use tight ends.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Thad Lewis, QB: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

Lewis

 

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Tyvon Branch, S: 2 years, $10 million, $5 million

Grade: A

Branch

I loved Tyvon Branch’s level of play for the Chiefs when he was on the field last season.

He’s a fringe starter that was stuck behind some really solid safeties in Kansas City. He should add some juice to the Cardinals safety corps.

The Cardinals defense loves its play-makers.

 

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Jeff Allen: 4 years, $28 million

Grade: B+

Allen

Allen is a slight upgrade over the departed Brooks and is getting one million a year less.

He’s 27 years old so he could potentially grow as a player, either way he’s just entering his prime and is well-rounded as a pass and run-blocker.

I still think 7 mil per year is a little bit too much for an above-average starting guard. But it’s very close to correct market value.

 

 

Tony Bergstrom, C: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Bergstrom

 

 

Lamar Miller, RB: 4 years, 26 million, $14 million guaranteed.

Grade: C

Miller

The Texans clearly needed to find an answer as they’re moving on from Arian Foster.

Miller represents a downgrade, however, and at a little over $5 million per season, he’s getting paid more than a very comparable running back in New Orlean’s Mark Ingram.

This is another case of overpaying in a thin market, and these teams are going to regret these deals.

 

 

Brock Osweiler, QB: 4 years, $72 million

Grade: OH BOY Chef Boyar-Baalke Grade

Osweiler

Osweiler was only a viable starter because he was such a scheme fit for the Broncos.

He will not be better than Brian Hoyer and if the Texans expect him to be their quarterback of the future, they’re delusional.

This deal is warm, like some good Chef Boyardee, because it does my heart good to see dumb teams overpaying mediocre quarterbacks. $18 million a year? Really? He’s a backup. Oh man, this one is funny.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Ramon Humber, LB: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: B-

Humber

I have nearly no doubt this is a veteran minimum deal.

Humber is ok depth at linebacker and a very good special teamer. He just should never be asked to take signifcant snaps.

The Patriots have a solid history of acquiring Saints castoffs like Rob Ninkovich, Donte Stallworth and Akiem Hicks to name a few, so I expect them to maximize Humber’s skill set.

 

 

DETROIT LIONS

Johnson Bademosi, CB: 2 years, $4.5 million

Grade: C-

Bademosi

This is a tough one since literally everywhere I look, I see Bademosi referred to as a “special teams ace”.

While that is a seriously undervalued talent in the NFL today, I think teams can find contributors on special teams for the veteran minimum.

Bademosi was pretty bad as a corner for the Browns so he likely won’t help the Lions’ secondary too much. I like the idea here, I just don’t think he’s worth the contract.

 

 

Stefan Charles, DT: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Charles

 

 

Tavon Wilson, CB/S: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Wilson

 

 

Marvin Jones, WR: 5 years, $40 million, 17 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

Ma Jones

 

Don’t get me wrong, this is too much for Jones. He’s an excellent WR2 getting paid like a borderline WR1 which I am not a fan of.

He cannot, and should not be expected, to headline a wide receiving corps, and will not replace the production Calvin Johnson provided, even in Johnson’s later years.

However, he was easily the best available receiver with the most potential, he’s 26 and just had his best season as a pro, and probably will get a bit better before he peaks.

If the Lions draft a receiver high, they could potentially have one of the best young corps in the league, immediately. They just have to understand Jones is not a number 1 guy.

 

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Donald Stephenson, OT: 3 years, $14 million, $10 million guaranteed

Grade: D-

Stephenson

Word was if the Broncos lost Jackson, they’d be in the market for a serious O-lineman.

Stephenson is an upgrade over Michael Schofield, who started at right tackle, and provides a solid backup option if Clady can’t go or if Sambrailo isn’t ready.

The Broncos overpaid by quite a bit on this contract. A little under $5 million for a guy that still has potential, but was dreadful last year is a concerning signing for a team that had hardly any cap flexibility.

 

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Ben Watson: 2 years, $8 million

Grade: C-

Watson

The Ravens are paying for Watson’s 2015 production in a Payton scheme with Brees throwing him the football.

Baltimore represents a downgrade in both scheme and quarterback play. Pair that with the natural regression the 35-year-old Watson is sure to have and you can start to see why I’m not crazy about this move.

However, Watson is still a good blocker and should provide some solid depth behind Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams.

He’s also a wonderful presence both on and off the field as a leader and humanitarian. It’s always smart to add a guy like that to a young locker room. They’re just paying too much of a premium for it for my taste.

 

 

 

STAYING PUT:

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Antonio Gates, TE: 2 years, $12 million

Grade: B-

The only other really old tight end besides Watson to have an excellent season, Gates is proving to be an ageless wonder.

But you have to wonder (see what I did there?) what the Chargers were thinking letting Ladarius Green go, who was paid less to go play for the Steelers.

Of course that contract baffles me regardless, so maybe I should just stop thinking about it before I get an aneurysm.

 

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Ifeanyi Momah, TE: 1 year, minimum exclusive rights tender

Grade: B

There’s really not much to say here. Momah is 6’7 and over 250 lbs, so he could potentially grow into something.

He’s a former Eagles receiver that bulked up to play the position and looked good a couple years ago at the veteran combine.

Certainly worth rostering and there’s no risk. I like it.

 

 

Drew Stanton, QB: 2 years, $6.5 million

Grade: B+

Stanton was a decent option running Arians’ offense when he needed to in the 2014 season.

He’s not, by any means, anything special but he’s just about at the right price at 3.25 mil per year here.

This is a solid re-signing and allows the Cardinals to allocate their resources elsewhere.

 

NEW YORK JETS

Zach Sudfeld, TE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

Bilal Powell, RB: 3 years, $11.25 million, $6 million

Grade: B

Powell is an excellent receiving back who can also provide some between the tackle runs.

Basically, he’s a poor man’s Darren Sproles. He doesn’t have near the skill-set Sproles has, and so paying him almost $4 million per year seems a little silly to me.

Maybe I’m being unfair since the Jets have been Gods of the running back market so far. This one is solid, not great.

 

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Nick Perry, OLB: 1 year, $5 million

Grade: C

This signing is puzzling. Of course, Ted Thompson is staying in-house during free agency.

I just have to wonder why they’re paying so much for potential here with Perry, he’s never really played up to his billing.

Not sure why the Packers expect things to be different this season.

 

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Mike Harris, OT: 1 year, $9 million

Harris was the Vikings best lineman last year, far more competent than fat Phil Loadholt or cement feet Matt Kalil.

I imagine they’re banking on Clemmings developing and just need a fill-in. That in mind, this is a solid deal with no risk.

 

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Colt McCoy, QB: 3 years, $9 million

Grade: B+

McCoy is an adequate backup quarterback who can provide solid snaps off the bench.

If he has to start, the Redskins are in trouble, but for just $3 million a year, they’re doing pretty well, as long as they invest that money they’re saving wisely elsewhere.

 

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

William Gay, CB: 3 years, $7.5 million

Grade: A

Gay was far and away the best and most consistent of the Steelers corners.

He was a stabilizing force on a defense in flux. He’s well worth just about 2 and a half mil a year. This is definitely a hometown discount.

He may not be a legitimate corner one, but the Steelers needed to keep him.

 

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Bryce Harris, OT: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

Adrian Clayborn, DE: 2 years, $9 million

Grade: C-

I don’t like it. Clayborn is the definition of boring.

He’s average, and sometimes below average and is not even close to a viable starter. He is not worth much more than the veteran minimum.

There was buzz that a few teams were interested and I never understood it. I could only imagine the laughable contracts the other teams might have offered him.

 

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Jermaine Kearse, WR: 3 years, $13.5 million

Grade: B-

I’m surprised the Seahawks weren’t able to sign him for less, but Kearse has come up big in big moments.

He’s also a willing blocker who runs good routes and has good hands. He’s clearly the type of player they want in the room.

You’d just prefer it at less than $4 million per year.

 

 

Jeremy Lane, CB: 4 years, $23 million, $11 million

Grade: D

This is too much money, especially for a guy that hasn’t really proven anything. He’s an all right fill-in option at Nickel getting paid like a fringe starter.

I didn’t like the Rubin resigning, I don’t like this one.

 

Athyba Rubin, DT: 3 years, $12 million

Grade: C-

Rubin was all right for the Seahawks last year and probably isn’t ever going to reach his potential.

Paying him $4 million a year represents a little bit of arrogance from the Seahawks as they believe their scheme can work with inferior players since they’re essentially replacing Mebane with Rubin.

I don’t think that’s going to work out too well.

 

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Frank Zombo, OLB: 3 year, $3.6 million

Grade: B

Zombo is decent depth in the edge rotation for the Chiefs who clearly wanted to keep the entire gang together.

Can’t say I blame them since I think the Chiefs are developing into one of the greatest young defenses in the league.

While Zombo didn’t play particularly well last year, he likely won’t regress too much since he’s only 29 and playing limited snaps.

 

 

Tamba Hali, DE: 3 years, $22 million, $12 million

Grade: B

This isn’t quite the hometown discount the Chiefs had been getting, but it’s still pretty good for a guy that hasn’t really slowed down yet.

Hali still offers very impactful starter snaps and he’ll be part of a highly talented rotation in Kansas City, that considered, a little over 7 mil per year is a fair bargain for his skill set.

Still, the main concern is his age, he could regress at any moment.

 

 

Jaye Howard, DE: 2 years, $12 million

Grade: A

This is a deal I can get behind. Howard was probably one of the best young defensive ends on the market.

He has pass-rush ability and is stout against the run. He is just entering his prime, and should only get better.

I question the Chiefs for not giving him a longer-term deal since his value will most likely rise over the life of this relatively short contract.

 

 

Derrick Johnson, LB: 3 years, $21 million

Grade: A-

Talk about a hometown discount. Johnson is the heart and soul of that defense and played brilliantly last season.

He should have a couple elite years left, and at 7 mil per year, the Chiefs aren’t breaking the bank. Compare this to the Irvin contract and you start to see why it’s such great value.

Should be interesting to see what Trevathan gets since he’s the other elite linebacker on the market.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Luke McCown, QB: 2 year, $3 million

Grade: A+

I like this one a lot. McCown played well in place of an injured Brees against an excellent Panthers defense early in the season.

He shows a very good understanding of Payton’s complicated system and often identified the right target and threw it accurately.

At $1.5 million a year, the Saints are getting their ideal backup. Sounds good to me.

 

 

Kai Forbath: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: B

This literally can’t be for more than the vet. minimum. If it is, I’ll be stunned.

As it stands, Forbath was decent for the Saints last year in relief of the disastrous Zack Hocker. The kicking competition in camp should be interesting.

If Scobee’s back to full health, Forbath has no shot, but there’s no risk, so I like it.

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Marcedes Lewis: 3 years, $12 million

Grade: C-

I would hate paying Lewis $4 million a year if another team was doing it.

Since he’s staying home though, I only mostly dislike it. There were better options on the market, but the Jags bought high last year on Julius Thomas and don’t want to blow all their money in one place.

Lewis is apparently good in the locker room and the community too, which never hurts a player’s value.

 

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Tracy Porter, CB: 3 years, $16.5 million

Grade: C+

This is an understandable deal considering Porter actually became a viable starter last year. At times, he was the best player in the Bears secondary.

There’s some concern though that this was an anomaly, but staying in the same defense is the best thing that could have happened for Porter.

A little over 5 mil per year might seem steep, but consider that a player who played at a similar level last year in Janoris Jenkins is getting paid significantly more, and this isn’t all that bad at all.

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Tim Barnes, C: 2 years, $5.5 million

Grade: D

It’s laughable that this guy got more than the veteran minimum.

He’s 28 so he should be in the midst of his prime, but he just came off a terrible season and has never been much more than an ok backup.

This is kind of a baffling move.

 

 

Brian Quick, WR: 1 year, $3.75 million, $1.5 million guaranteed

Grade: A

A one year deal on a receiver with a solid height-weight-speed combo sounds like a slam dunk to me.

Not much more to say here. No risk, potentially high reward if Quick ever puts it together.

 

 

William Hayes, DE: 3 years, $23 million

Grade: B-

Hayes may become a viable starter, the Rams are betting on it.

You’d have to hope that a team resigning their player would get a deal under the market value. Unfortunately, this is well-over.

Over 7 mil a year for a guy they aren’t totally sure can handle a full starting load is a lot to risk, and Hayes likely won’t play up to the contract.

 

 

Mark Barron, OLB: 5 years, $45 million

Grade: Even Baalke Would Balk at This Grade

Barron was an ok starter at linebacker for the Rams after being an awful safety throughout his career.

He didn’t suddenly gain the coverage abilities he had lacked throughout his career and is little more than a hard-hitter with solid instincts. In no way at all is he worth 8 mil per year.

Maybe 3 mil per year. This is unreal.

 

 

DETROIT LIONS

Tahir Whitehead, OLB: 2 years, $8 million

Grade: A+

Wow. Talk about a hometown discount. Whitehead has a skill-set that is incredibly coveted in the modern NFL (he can actually cover tight ends).

He’s also a solid tackler and a young, ascending player. I loved the Trevathan deal. I think this might be better.

 

 

Haloti Ngata, DT: 2 years, $12 million, $6 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

The Lions cupboard is bare at defensive tackle after the roster was gutted a couple years ago so keeping Ngata makes sense.

It’s surprising that they had to pay him this much to stay though, his market must have been hot.

Six mil per year to an aging vet who is regressing is a little much, though the Lions did not totally fail since it’s a short contract.

 

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Doug Martin, RB: 5 years, $35.75 million, $15 million guaranteed

Grade: Baalke Hires Jim Tomsula Grade

Shoutout to Walter Football for the inspiration.

As you all know by now, Baalke sucks. I have to wonder if he had to possess Jason Licht’s body to make this deal.

Doug Martin has has two good seasons: his rookie season and last season. You have to wonder why that is.

Regardless of that, no running back ever is worth $7 million. Besides that, the Bucs could have simply drafted Ezekiel Elliott at 9 to replace Martin. Elliott might even be a better back. This is a pathetic move.

 

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS:

Vincent Rey, LB: 3 years, $11.5 million

Grade: D+

Rey is a decent rotational linebacker for the Bengals who had a down year.

He’s 28, so he probably won’t be getting much better but last year may have been an anomaly. Rey has some solid seasons under his belt and is sticking in the same defense.

Regardless though, paying nearly $4 million a year is a little ridiculous for “just a guy” as he is. So I can’t say I’m a fan of this. No hometown discounts in Cincinnati it seems.

 

 

Adam Jones, CB: 3 years, $20 million

Grade: D

Jones will undoubtedly regress before this contract is up. He’s been up and down his entire career.

I can’t fathom why the Bengals could give him over $6 million per season. The numbers are awful.

I understand keeping a tough, competitive veteran who could show the young guys the ropes, but that sort of role could be filled for 2-3 mil a year. This is pretty egregious.

 

 

Eric Winston, OT: 1 year, $1.09 million

Grade: A

Winston is a rock-solid swing tackle who likely won’t be counted on by the Bengals to provide starter snaps.

In an absolutely absurd market where backups are getting paid near starter money, this is an excellent signing.

 

 

George Iloka, S: 5 years, $30 million

Grade: A

An ascending player, Iloka will likely only get better as the contract goes along.

I’m always a fan of paying your good young players since there’s no questions about scheme or locker room fit.

Besides that, this is right about where the market value should be for an above-average starting safety, and in fact could be considered a minor steal.

Overall, one of the most complete rosters in the NFL stays strong here.

 

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Josh Thomas, CB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

Rolando McClain: 1 year, $5 million

Grade: A

I’m tempted to give this a higher grade, but my main issue is the Cowboys are once again gambling that only they value McClain.

That seems insane to me, as he’s developed into a premiere run-stuffing linebacker, with enough range and instincts to hold up in coverage. His skill-set should be majorly coveted.

His off-field issues don’t seem to affect his on-field effort or character and his injury concerns are only minor.

The Cowboys need to lock him up long-term, soon, while he’s still cheap.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Jason Pierre-Paul: 1 year, $10.5 million

Grade: B+

I’m not as big a fan of JPP as most, and the fireworks incident has me majorly concerned with his long-term viability.

But I love a one-year contract, and I’m sure it’s incentivized out the yin-yang. Pierre-Paul is a solid run defender with pass rush ability, and so is a plug-and-play 4-3 end who flashes dominance.

However, I think 10.5 million is just a bit too much to pay for a guy who may never be the same. I felt a similar way about the Hardy contract last year. It’s not perfect just because it’s one year.

 

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Joe Webb, QB: 2 years, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

Charles Johnson: 1 year, $5 million

Grade: A+

This is the premiere move of the off-season so far and it will be hard to beat.

Johnson is still an above-average starting 4-3 end and came on strong, showing flashes of his 2013 form during the 2015 playoffs.

The Panthers get a player that could return to form for a major cut rate. Incredible. As if that defense wasn’t good enough already.

 

 

BUFFALO BILLS

Richie Incognito, G: 3 years, $15.75 million

Grade: B-

As you might be able to tell, I don’t like paying old guys.

Incognito is 33 so it kind of baffles me that the Bills think he’ll play out this contract a $5 mil/year playing level.

He was however, according to Pro Football Focus, the best available pure guard based on 1097 snaps last season.

He should continue a high level of play next year, so if the guaranteed number is low and front loaded, I could potentially like this contract a lot more.

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